We know that your 4x4 rarely looks the same as it did the day you got it. After all, a huge part of our hobby is modifying our rigs to make them work better for our needs. From salvaging barn finds to transforming daily drivers into dedicated wheelers, the evolution of any given 4x4 is anything but typical. We knew that many of you had great before and after shots of your rides, so a few months ago, we put the call out to see what you had.
To sweeten the pot, we teamed up with the rugged work and leisure clothing team at Dickies (www.dickies.com), which agreed to throw in any jacket of choice to our top three before and after submissions. After going through all of the entries, we’ve finally picked our top three. More than anything, what made the top trio stick out was they were all DIY builds on varying budgets. All three also represented a great balance of form and function.
Think your rig could have been a contender? Well, we would love to check it out.
To submit your ride, simply send a high resolution before and after photo (at least 1600x1200 or 2MB) to email@example.com with the title “Before/After”. Be sure to include as much information as possible about the vehicle and a little history on how and why the build took place. Don’t worry if your beater still looks like a beater, this isn’t a beauty contest. So, dig through those photo archives and let us see what kind of progress you have made. Who knows? Your ride might end up in the pages of Four Wheeler, too.
Dan Gotobed, Shawnee, Kansas
1974 Ford Bronco
The story of Dan Gotobed’s early Bronco is a great one and definitely a family affair.
Gotobed says “I bought this Bronco in 2001 off of eBay in Maryville, Missouri. It was a farm truck with a snowplow, a little rust, and only 46,000 miles. My intent was to build an off-road toy with a little bondo, a lift, and wheels and tires. OK, I got a little carried away. As Bronco guys know (I didn’t at the time), a little rust visible means terminal cancer within. I started replacing panels, which (meant) I had to teach myself to weld.
I then built a rotisserie and completely restored the frame and bottom of the body, rebuilt the engine, changed gears, and so on. I sent my son to UTI where he learned to paint and he painted (the Bronco) in his garage. My wife reminds me it was in (our) garage for nine years. The finished product reflects the labor of love.” Gotobed adds a “special thanks to my son Stephen for the paint job and airbrush art by my other son, Brad.”
At A Glance
Years owned: 12
Build time: 9 years
Engine: 302ci Ford V-8
Transfer case: Dana 20
Axles (f/r): Dana 44/Ford 9-in
Axle ratio: 4.56:1
Suspension: Wild Horses 3-in lift with dual shocks, rear shocks moved inboard
Steering: Stock power steering
Tires: 35x12.50R15 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
Wheels: American Racing 15x10
Body armor: Custom bumpers and rollcage.
Other doodads: Smittybilt winch, engine bored .030 over w/mild cam, spray-on bedliner
John Klafin, Gilbert, Arizona
1982 Jeep CJ-10
John Klafin says his build “started out as a CJ-10 from the Air Force that a friend of mine bought at auction. After five years, he got tired of it and gave it to me. It took 16 months, and I did all the work myself in a three-car garage in a subdivision.” That’s a lot of building in a short time! We dig what Klafin did with the Jeep and figured you would, too.
At A Glance
Years owned: 5
Build time: 16 months
Engine: 350ci Ram Jet V-8
Transfer case: Atlas II, 3.8:1
Axles (f/r): High-pinion Dana 60, Detroit Locker/Dana 60, Detroit Locker
Axle ratio: 5.38:1
Suspension: Three-link front, four-link rear, Bilstein coilovers, Currie sway bars and Johnny Joints
Steering: PSC Motorsports full hydraulic
Tires: 14/42-17LT Interco IROK
Wheels: 17x10 aluminum beadlock
Body armor: Custom frame w/integrated sliders, custom front and rear bumpers, exterior and interior cage
Other doodads: Dual fire extinguishers, Hi-Lift, Warn winch, CO2 tank, front and rear rock lights
Tyler Jones, Burlington, Kentucky
1989 Chevy Blazer
Tyler Jones wasted no time transforming his ’89 Blazer into the wheeling machine that he wanted it to become. He states, “(I) bought it bone stock other than some aftermarket wheels and tires a little over a year ago. It was no showroom queen when I bought it, but it had low miles and was in pretty decent shape for an old Chevy from the Rust Belt. Now, it is a trail ready rig.”
Since Jones was looking to run a high-pinion driver-side front axle, he had to ditch the stock NP241 transfer case for a NP241 transfer case. This also required a custom transmission crossmember and a few other driveline adjustments. Jones says the Blazer “is a never-ending project” and hopes to one day build a link-suspension system front and rear and even add larger tires.
At A Glance
Years owned: 2
Build time: Main portion took about two months, but it is an ongoing project.
Engine: 350ci GM V-8
Transfer case: Clocked NV241
Axles (f/r): ‘79 Ford high-pinion Dana 60/14-bolt, welded
Axle ratio: 4.11:1
Suspension: Custom 3-in ift, 47-in front springs, rear shackle flip w/stock 52-in springs, relocated shock mounts
Steering: Offroad Design steering box brace, 2WD sector shaft w/XJ pitman arm, 1.5-in, 0.250-wall DOM steering links, knuckles and pitman arm drilled for ¾-in rod ends
Tires: 16/38.5-15LT Interco Super Swamper TSL
Body armor: Custom cage, sliders, and rear bumper.
Other doodads: Four-point harnesses, cage-mounted bucket seats, bedlined interior, dovetailed rear bodywork, pinched front bodywork, bobbed frame